Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

More than 1,200 Native youth leaders expected to converge on Los Angeles for National UNITY Conference

Los Angeles—Microsoft, Google and other experts in the technology industry will take part in this year’s National UNITY Conference from July 12-16, which is expected to draw more than 1,200 American Indian and Alaskan Native youth leaders from throughout the country. Presenters will address the theme “Technology and Tradition for Today and Tomorrow” and show the youth how to effectively educate the public and create awareness about tribal traditions. Many of the youth attending the conference at the Warner Center Marriott Hotel in the Woodland Hills District of Los Angeles represent the 140 UNITY affiliated youth councils from 28 states. UNITY stands for United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc.

The event will kick-off on Friday morning, July 12 at 10:30 am with the lighting of the UNITY fire. The UNITY Fire is used for ceremonial purposes and burns 24-hours a day throughout the conference. It signifies spirituality and healing. The youth attendees will serve as fire keepers. The Opening Ceremony at 1:30 pm will begin with a Grand Entry lead by California bird singers and dancers.

The National UNITY Council Executive Committee, made up of 12 members elected by UNITY youth representatives and who will host the proceedings, developed an agenda to tackle various youth issues in Indian Country. Native youth face similar challenges as all American youth but statistics show the issues such as suicide, drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and high school drop out rate are magnified. The group will call the conference to order, continue with the annual roll call of states and the introduction of guests and tribal leaders. Youth leaders will emcee all events and general sessions during the conference.

Participating in what will be a colorful Grand Entry are Ernest Siva, Spiritual Leader from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, who will give the blessing, and Walter Holmes, Morongo Birdsinger, Actor Saginaw Grant (Lone Ranger), Flag Bearer and a member of the Sac and Fox Tribe, followed by welcome remarks from Chairwoman Rosemary Morillo, Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians and Tribal Captain Rudy Ortega from the Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians.

Keynote remarks will be made by Jude Schimmel, Umatilla, who along with her sister Shoni, is a member of the Louisville Women’s Basketball Team who captured national attention in its run for the NCAA championship title. Shoni is in Russia playing in the World University Games. Jude will be joined on stage by her parents Ceci and Rick Schimmel.

“I like that there will youth speakers at the conference such as Jude Schimmel and (You Tube sensations) Antoine Edwards, Jr. and Don Eastman. It’s motivating to see what they can do with their lives without using drugs and alcohol. They show us what they are able to do. I think they are good role models,” said Sonny Johnson, Kansas Kickapoo and Southern Plains Representative.

Four tribal leaders will participate in a roundtable discussion on Friday followed by a question and answer period during the opening session. This 45 minute segment will be streamed live over the Internet and available for viewing on the UNITY website ( starting at 3:00 pm (Pacific time). The leaders will address issues of importance to Native youth and then respond to questions from the audience. Scheduled to participate on the panel are:

• Danielle Vigil Masten, Chairwoman, Hoopa Valley Tribe

• Rosemary Morillo, Chairwoman, Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians

• Rudy Ortega, Tomiar/Tribal Captain, Fernandeno Tataviam Band of Mission Indians

• Kevin Bonds, Councilman, Tule River Indian Tribe

“I’m excited for the new things being introduced at the conference such as scheduled time for tweeting, UNITY News and how we will have a buddy system. I expect the youth speakers to be inspiring and motivating,” said Ashley Chianna, Santee Sioux/Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux and the Great Plains Representative.

For 37 years the National UNITY Conference has brought Native Youth Leaders to cities all across the United States to participate in a drug and alcohol free setting. The youth led five-day conference will have a packed agenda including motivational messages, team-building exercises, health and fitness activities, cultural exchange (Saturday night), workshops, banquet, and closing commitment ceremony.

Speakers and Special Guests include:

• Alexandrea Schulte, Northern Ute, Professional Golfer

• VOXNativa Children’s Choir of Taiwan

• NAMA Artist of the Year, Tony Duncan, Estun Bah, Apache/Arikara/Mandan/Hidatsa Tribes

• Niki Sandoval, Ph.D., Education Director for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians

• Honorable Leroy Not Afraid, Crow, Justice of the Peace for the Big Horn Jurisdiction of Harding, Montana

• Technology expert, Mathew Yazzie, Navajo from San Francisco, California

• Deborah Parker, Vice Chairwoman, Tulalip Tribes

• T. Charles Pierson, CEO, Big Brother’s Big Sisters

• Antoine Edward, Jr. and Butchie Eastman, hand drum singers (You Tube Sensations)

• 1491s Comedy group

Workshops will include topics such as Bullying Prevention, Sexual Assault Prevention, use of social media, filmmaking, talking circles, youth leadership and drug abuse. A complete agenda can be found on UNITY’s website at

About UNITY, Inc.

United National Indian Tribal Youth, Inc. (UNITY) is a national network organization promoting personal development, citizenship, and leadership among Native Youth. UNITY's mission is to foster the spiritual, mental, physical, and social development of American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and to help build a strong, unified, and self-reliant Native America through greater youth involvement. UNITY's network currently includes 140 affiliated youth councils in 28 states. Youth Councils are sponsored by Tribes, Alaska Native villages, high schools, colleges, urban centers, and others.


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